Costume jewelry was once thought to be a fad, destined to fade out and be forgotten. When Coco Chanel first coined the term in the 1930s, it was intended to be a cheap, disposable accessory, meant to adorn a particular outfit and then be tossed away. But much to the surprise of many, vintage costume pieces have been saved and preserved and are being passed down through generations.
Often more innovative in design than precious jewelry, costume pieces from the mid-20th century are usually considered over-the-top (dare I say gaudy?) and many people aren’t courageous enough to wear them. However as they were often indicative of fashion trends throughout the century, to throw them away would be to throw away pieces of history. So before you empty Grandma’s jewelry box into your kids’ dress-up box, or worse, the garbage can, you may want to consider some of the following suggestions.
Frame vintage pieces as artwork
When it comes to quality, there is a large variety of well-made pieces out there. Some of the better-known names, such as Haskell, Schiaparelli, and Sherman, are real collector's items and can be quite expensive. If you’re lucky enough to own some of these but aren’t ready to wear them, why not display them in shadow boxes and hang them on the wall? The elaborate rhinestone and seed pearl necklaces from the 1950s and 1960s are truly works of art worth being admired.
Create an eye-catching table setting
Why not add a little sparkle to your dinner table? Clip-on earrings made of brilliantly coloured rhinestones make elegant place card holders. Or why not use vintage brooches as napkin rings? Simply tie a ribbon around a rolled napkin and attach a gorgeous brooch for a table setting full of glamour. If this idea is up your alley, try it on a larger scale and make one-of-a-kind curtain tiebacks.Other ways to add jewelry to your decor
Incorporating pieces into your decor doesn’t have to be difficult. Consider the following:
Place pieces in a bowl on the coffee table, or drape pieces over objets in a curio cabinet.
Mismatched or broken earrings can be given new life as fridge magnets and drawer pulls. Simply replace the back and voila! This works just as well with brooches.
Dress up your guest bath by rolling guest towels and securing them with vintage bracelets. Sparkly celluloid and rhinestone pieces will add some pizzazz, while Bakelite beauties will add a graphic punch.
If crafty projects get you excited, try attaching pieces of jewelry to a mirror or picture frame for a homemade accessory with a bit of glitz.
Giving treasured pieces as gifts
A fashionista friend will be thrilled to receive a gift with a stunning piece of jewelry attached to the ribbon. Brooch, bracelet or necklace – you can’t go wrong with this idea.
If you’re not lucky enough to have been handed down some of these pieces, you can easily find some. They’re widely available at flea markets, thrift stores, garage sales, and antique markets. So get out there and get your creative home decor juices flowing!